By Shawn Liverance
Local Sports Journal
Montague fans – no need to worry.
The Wildcats offense is in great hands if one game is any indication.
First-year quarterback Brandon Moore led a quick- strike Montague offense that blanked host Orchard View 49-0 in the season opener for both teams on Thursday night.
Moore rushed for 131 yards on eight carries and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and was 4-of-5 passing for 56 yards with one touchdown pass.
Not a bad start for Montague’s leading receiver last season, who finished with 49 catches and 10 touchdowns.
“It was a good start as I felt real comfortable,” said Moore, who is a Division 1 college wide receiver prospect. “I thought I did a good job, but also felt we did a good job as a team.”
The Wildcats didn’t need to open up their playbook too much as Moore took control of the game on Montague’s first possession.
Moore culminated a four-play, 46-yard opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Moore accounted for 29 of the yards on the ground.
He would add a 60-yard scoring run early in the second quarter and closed the first-half scoring when he connected with Alex VanVleet on 36-yard pass which gave the visiting Wildcats a 42-0 halftime lead.
“We basically only ran three plays,” Moore said. “They weren’t catching on to those plays so we kept running them. It is a great felling right now as it shows what our team can do.”
Moore guiding the Montague offense to 42 first-half points didn’t surprise Montague coach Pat Collins.
“Everybody knows Brandon is a great athlete and we are blessed to have Brandon and his skills playing quarterback for us,” Collins said. “We need to use his skills and basically it was status quo. That is what we have been seeing from Brandon in practice.”
Moore was not the only Wildcat player to provide big plays in the victory.
VanVleet added a 70-yard interception return in the first quarter, Brandon Stine raced 35 yards for another score and Chris Carroll scored on a 15-yard run and tossed a 50-yard scoring pass to Wyatt Ford in the final quarter.
Montague’s defense did its part as well, creating a pair of turnovers and allowing OV’s offense inside its 20-yard only twice, including the final drive when the Cardinals reached the Wildcats 4-yard line before time ran out.
“Our defense was good, but we are still working guys into position,” Collins said. “We don’t have the biggest guys , but they play with great heart and like to hit. We made a couple of mistakes, but bounced right back.”
VanVleet led the Montague defense with nine tackles and Jacob Marsh added eight stops and a fumble recovery.
Stine, Tristen Schultz and Ben Rupert all had sacks for the Wildcats.
Offensively, Stine rushed nine times for 99 yards and Ford was a perfect 7-of-7 on extra points.
“We have to be able to sustain drives,” Collins said. “We love quick touchdowns, but we know that will not always happen. We need to get the people around Brandon and we will get better as an offense.”
It wasn’t the start new Orchard View coach Joe Tanis had envisioned.
“It was a tough loss, but we have to take it for what it is and move on. Montague is a very good team,” said Tanis, who has had previous coaching stints at Napoleon High School and Galesburg-Augusta. “This will not define our season. We need to put our heads down and get back to work.”
There were some positives for the Cardinals as Justin Hunter-Smith showed skill from his running back position and freshman slot receiver and quarterback Darece Roberson flashed potential.
On defense, Michael Parker recovered a fumble for OV, while Kyle Cunningham added an interception and a fumble recovery.
“I saw some good things especially in that the kids want to compete and play football,” Tanis said. “We are lacking some depth up front but we are getting three guys back soon and that will help us.”